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January 25, 2006

RFID Essentials: Beyond Finding Lost Cats and Tracking Parcels

Sebastopol, CA--Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is rapidly changing the way business is being conducted. From Wal-Mart, to the Department of Defense, the benefits of RFID are quickly being realized. Although the software, integration, and data processing side of RFID still presents a challenge in many organizations. Reports have told us that over one billion RFID tags were produced in 2005 and in five years that could be over thirty billion. What exactly is RFID? How does it work? What can it do? Is it more than that little bit of something under the skin of my cat?

These and similar questions prompted Himanshu Bhatt and Bill Glover to write RFID Essentials (O'Reilly, US $39.99). Bhatt explains their thinking, "To some extent we thought about writing this book as we were looking for one like it when starting out with our work on RFID at Sun. What we found were books that were either focused on the physics and the RF/electronics side of RFID and some that were on 'marketecture.' We thought, with RFID technologies and standards in their inception phase, it would be good to have a book that would somehow demystify the workings of an RFID system."

Glover concurs, "There were books on the business case for RFID, and books on the physics and engineering details, but nothing that really spanned the place in between where a developer or solution architect has to take the requirements and the technology and put together a system that works."

"Our book provides a conceptual view of RFID and explains the important components without getting too deep," says Bhatt. "Whenever you are faced with something that sounds brand new, it is important to see how that maps to what you already know so that you can use all your past experience to improve the odds of success. We focus on an architectural view of RFID systems so that important qualities such as security, scalability, manageability, performance, are covered right from the start."

Because of the developing standards and growing demand, RFID has begun to mature as a technology, and according to the authors of "RFID Essentials," we'll see more widespread usage of it in our day-to-day lives. "When someone needs to keep track of something, more and more often they'll need to at least consider RFID as part of the solution," Glover observes. He believes that RFID will soon be as commonplace as barcodes, but will go places and do things that barcodes never could. "Attaching an ID to physical objects is just the first step in making these objects a part of the growing network of information we use every day. Almost everyone will use RFID in one way or another in the coming years; many of us already do and don't realize it."

As Bhatt and Glover point out, a Google news search on any given day will turn up hundreds of RFID stories: the state of Colorado is hoping to protect elk herds in part by using RFID to track them; drug manufacturers are deploying RFID to help fight counterfeit drugs; sea ports in California are using RFID to improve security; and the US government plans to incorporate RFID into every new passport with initial trials beginning this month.

RFID Essentials is for developers, system and software architects, and project managers, as well as students and professionals in all the industries impacted by RFID who want to understand how this technology works. As the title suggests, this book is about RFID in general and not just the most recent developments, but it will provide readers with the information and understanding they need to start designing, building, or integrating with RFID systems. Topics covered include:

  • Tags and Tag Protocols including Electronic Product Code (EPC)
  • Readers and Reader Protocols
  • RFID Middleware
  • Security and Privacy
  • Managing RFID Devices
  • Architecture
  • Early praise for RFID Essentials:

    "Bill and Himanshu have put together a true tour de force of RFID technologies. The breadth and depth of their coverage of this emerging space will leave few wanting. Presented in an accessible yet technically relentless manner, the authors expose the merely curious to more than they bargained for and surprise even the most hardened RFID expert with new insights and understandings. This is a must read for RFID software and solution architects, and is highly recommended for anyone who needs to gain insight into the myriad of components, standards, and technologies that make up an RFID solutions environment."
    --Bryan Tracy, Chief Architect, GlobeRanger Corporation

    Additional Resources:

    RFID Essentials
    Bill Glover and Himanshu Bhatt
    ISBN: 0-596-00944-5, 260 pages, $39.99 US
    order@oreilly.com
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

    About O'Reilly

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